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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

The Parkland Walk is a natural feeding corridor for bats, sitting as it does with Highgate and Queen's Wood at one end and Finsbury Park, with its large pond, at the other. The pond at Finsbury Park is a big draw for bats as it hosts such large numbers of insects.

The pipistrelle, at 4cm long, is the smallest and most common of Britain's 18 species and is one of the 7 that have been recorded on Parkland Walk. Bats are the only mammal that can truly fly, as opposed to glide. As flying uses up a lot of energy, they feast on large numbers over long distances and for much of the night. The tiny common pipistrelle can consume over 3,000 gnats, moths and flies in a single night.

Where and when to see them on the Walk
Bats sleep lightly during the day and leave their roost 15 - 30 minutes before sunset. Best places to see them are where there are small clearings in the tree cover. They generally fly at about 6 metres above ground so look upwards to see them swooping silhouetted against the evening sky. In Muswell Hill look at either end of the viaduct, in Highgate just in front of the railway tunnels and as you go through Crouch End and Stroud Green check around the bridges or by the open grassland areas.

Daubenton's bat
Sometimes referred to as the 'water bat', the Daubenton's bat ( see picture at the head of the newsletter) forages for small flies, such as midges, caddisflies and mayflies, just above water; it can even use its feet and tail to scoop up insects from the water's surface as it forages. Daubenton's bats roost near water, under bridges or in tunnels, and in holes in trees. During the summer, females form maternity colonies to have their pups. Daubenton's bats hibernate in caves, tunnels and mines over winter. They have been recorded in surveys of the railway tunnels at the Highgate end of the Walk. It's name was given to honour 18th century French naturalist Louise-Jean-Marie Daubenton.

Photo courtesy of Bat Conservation International and Minden Pictures.

Long eared bats
Less common on the Walk but have been noted in surveys and are likely to have come from Queen's Wood or Highgate Wood as they prefer mature broad-leafed woodland for nesting locations . They have a wingspan up to 28.5cm. They emerge from their roosts fairly late in the evening. 

Roosts
Bats will roost in trees, caves, bridges, barns or houses, although, as modern building techniques change, that is less common now. Bat boxes help provide alternative sheltered accommodation.

Picture: Paul van Hoof

The tunnels at the Highgate end of Parkland Walk have now become a protected bat sanctuary where they often tuck themselves into gaps between bricks. Surveys indicate numbers are increasing annually.

Bats hang up-side down when they sleep which begs the question 'Why don't they fall when they are asleep?' Well, the tendons in their legs and feet are designed so that the weight of the bat causes the toes and claws to grip the foothold in the roost firmly, even when asleep. In most mammals the knees bend forwards. Bat knees bend the other way which helps them fly away from the surface on which they are hanging.   

All text from Friends of Parkland Walk. Read more from the group and sign-up to their newsletter  at www.parkland-walk.org.uk.

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Hi Hugh, We just had the bat survey team at our homeless shelter in Muswell Hill tonight. They seemed to be recording the sound/sonar and looking out for the bats. 

This gives it a bit more context.

Thanks - I will pass it on to our team.

C

We've noticed bats over the garden if the Turkish Cypriot Community Association (which we overlook) for the first time during lockdown - maybe because no one has been there. 

We saw bats over our garden on Warham Road last night! Never noticed/seen them before lockdown 

Bats are viral carriers, even the species in the UK, and you should be warning people about the danger they pose if handled or disturbed. They do not co-exist well with people which may be a good thing. But you should at least mention their potential health risks. 

Here’s a very comprehensive guide to bats and disease from the Bat Conservation Trust. The headline is that there are *no known zoonotic coronaviruses in UK bats*. There is no reason to pick up or handle a bat and they are fully protected by the law, it even requires a licence to survey them.

Should you find a bat in distress then you must follow a strict protocol if you have to handle them. Like most mammals, they bite and you should seek medical advice immediately should you sustain a bite as, although the risk remains low, they can transmit a rabies virus. 

https://www.bats.org.uk/about-bats/bats-and-disease/bats-and-diseas... 

Advice on all aspects can be found on the Bat Conservation Trust website.

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that bats are a vital part of the ecosystem both as pest control, for seed dispersal  and as pollinators. Next time you drink some tequila or eat a banana, you can thank a bat! Their presence is a strong indicator of healthy biodiversity. There is no reason to be scared of them. 

Thank you for that informed response, Liz. 

The so called "informed" advice ignores the clear evidence of cases of serious illness being caused by bat bites in the UK because it does not fit into the profile of your lobby or hobby. I am not against bats or your enthusiasm, but by all means offer a sensible precautionary note. 

Dolly, as far as this issue is concerned, I'm interested in evidence, not opinion. I think you will be given more credence if you can point to any reputable source that supports the views you have expressed.

You are factually incorrect. The bat lobby acts like this. There have been cases of serious illness caused by bat bites in the UK. Anybody who wishes to ascertain the truth can look this up on line. 

Liz has looked it up online and she has provided the evidence she found. 

I am not factually incorrect. The page I linked to details the rabies strain and even states that someone *who works with bats* died from it. It also warns against handling bats (I certainly wouldn’t anymore than I’d try and pick up a fox cub or indeed any wild mammal) and specifically states that you should seek immediate medical attention if you are foolish enough to do so and are bitten. 

Regarding the links to newspaper articles (which I did read) papers generally like to frighten with lurid headlines. Those of us old enough to remember the public information films of the 70s and 80s, and the Channel Tunnel scare stories (foxes strolling over to bite us all) are probably particularly susceptible to this kind of scare-mongering reporting about diiseases like rabies, and tabloids in particular like “horror nature” stories (see False Widows, Giant Hogweed) but the government advice is *exactly the same as the BCT advice* so why are you suggesting there’s something different that ...er...”bat lobby” are hiding from the populace?

Finally, what are you suggesting should be done about this? It is an offence to disturb or harm bats and so people shouldn’t be going anywhere near them. Watching from afar is perfectly safe although perhaps not everyone’s taste. In European countries, rabies is a fact of life and you will see signs warning about it in forests but the inhabitants don’t instigate mass culls or even stop strolling around their forests. You are far more likely to be bitten badly by a dog or catch a severe infection from a cat scratch than you are to be bitten by a bat yet we don’t live our lives worrying about these things and welcome them into our homes. I’m not sure why bats should be the focus of such fear. 

Like the BBC. Seems your cosy view ignores virtually every available advice out there or report even when it comes from The Times or the BBC. 

CASES

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/victim-of-bat-bite-is-seriously-...

and

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2286724.stm

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